1) Each email you send needs to have one, and exactly one, purpose, and you must get to the point immediately.
Do you have a question about the budget AND want to get together for lunch next week?
That’s two different emails, or perhaps an email and a phone call or maybe just a phone call. People scan emails and will miss things if illogically grouped together.
2) It’s the Subject, Stupid.
The most important part of an email is the subject. Make sure it is accurate and enticing. If not, your email may be misconstrued or ignored.
If your email is asking for input on the FY09 Budget, a subject of “Hey” or “Question” is inane. A better subject would be “Your input on Budget please” or similar.
3) Don’t send email when angry!
If you’re upset, you may draft an email, but apply the “sleep on it” rule and send it after a re-read and perhaps re-write in the morning.
People have lost their jobs over angry emails — and worse. Calm down first!
4) Email will consume all your time and life if you let it — so don’t let it.
Always place time limits on email. For example, you may choose to read email from ten to ten thirty, four to four thirty, and then a quick check after dinner. If you read email constantly, you’ll get very little done except for reading email!
You don’t have to answer all your email; no such law nor moral obligation exists. I ignore all spam and semi-spam. Even somewhat legit email will usually get ignored by me if I don’t know the sender and they couldn’t be bothered with visiting my site to figure out my name.
5) Your Inbox is not a storage area. Move email out quickly.
Yes, a few things may live very temporarily in your inbox, but mail shouldn’t linger there. It’s called an “Inbox,” not a “Holding Pen.”
Emails that can be dealt with in a minute or less should be dealt with immediately upon reading. Other email may be allowed to linger for a few days at most.
6) If you’re busy, don’t read email first thing in the morning.
Instead, dive right into your real work. Email is usually not real work.
7) Expect to occasionally be misunderstood — email is impersonal and humans are not.
Smiley faces aside, as they are often ambiguous as well, email is impersonal and if you don’t know the other person emailing, misunderstandings are to be expected. Hey, humans don’t communicate that well anyway! Email can compound the problem.
Violate these rules at your own risk! Yes, I do sometimes, but not when it really matters.
My business lives and dies by email. Even my personal life is increasingly driven by email. Your business, career, or even love life may be too. Love it or hate it, email matters.
By Ted Demopoulos Ted Demopoulos is the author of the 100% free ebook Effective Internet Presence: Now required for success in business and life available at Effective Internet Presence. More articles and information is available at http://www.EffectiveInternetPresence.com